Committee of the Islands

Keeping Sanibel Special Since 1975

President's Remarks Annual Meeting 2015

View Article Archives

March 14, 2015


Keeping Sanibel Special Since 1975


Good morning! Thank you for joining us.  Today, I want to share my observations about: the value of COTI to you; our accomplishments; opportunities looking forward; and COTI volunteer leaders.

Let me start by reviewing the value of COTI to you

I have observed, that the community and city of Sanibel is a true democracy in which our voices have impact on important decisions and produce tangible results.   Through cooperative action, your voice can be heard and acted on to help ensure your quality of life.

COTI represents the interest of residents, snowbirds, repeat visitors and property owners, while seeking to ensure the economic viability of the island. 

COTI is truly, a volunteer organization with no full time staff.  We serve as a civic advocate to: Ensure effective government; conserve Sanibel’s natural ecosystem; maintain a friendly small town community; and protect home values.  We are working hard to ensure the next 40 years is as special as, the last 40 years, and that we pass this gift on to future generations.

COTI has a unique role on Sanibel as a group of citizens who remains vigilant to encourage adherence to the Sanibel Vision, the Sanibel Plan and the Land Development Code. One or more of the COTI Board Members attends every City Council Meeting and Planning Commission meeting.  We regularly meet with and communicate with City Council members, Planning Commission members and City of Sanibel management.  COTI’s and Sanibel’s success is a result of the talents, work and dedication of many volunteers especially those on the COTI Board, the City Council and city commissions.

The “MAGIC” of Sanibel is that our city government, COTI and other Sanibel organizations, work together to make effective decisions that produce positive results.   As we increase the size of our COTI community, we increase our collective capability to have influence on, decisions and actions made by Sanibel leadership.

There are three ways you can help keep Sanibel special:

1.    Please renew your COTI Membership today or JOIN COTI today!  You can do this by simply going to our web site, clicking on the box marked MEMBERSHIP: JOIN or RENEW or simply send a check to COTI, P.O. Box 88 Sanibel.  >  Your funds will be used wisely to preserve quality of life on Sanibel.

2.   Please help us continue to grow COTI’s numbers and strength by asking your friends and neighbors to JOIN COTI or by simply asking them to register for the our eNews by visiting our web site  

3.   Please read our eNews messages and then “let you voice be heard” by sending emails to our civic leaders; or by joining us at City Council meetings; or by getting involved with a COTI committee.

All these personal actions will strengthen our efforts to keep Sanibel special!

So now let me review this year’s Sanibel & COTI accomplishments

Working effectively with the Sanibel elected leaders and management, COTI and the City has taken action that has:

·      Prohibited large buses from bringing day-trippers to our beaches;

·      Created a more rigorous permitting process for any on-island bus tour services;

·      Continued the effort to prohibit unsupervised Segways use on Sanibel’s shared paths;

·      Initiated the creation of architectural standards to ensure attractive resort redevelopment;

·      Created a new rigorous permitting process for floating docks, helping to ensure safety and protection of our ecosystem.

·      Created a consensus on the revised Dark Skies ordinance with well-defined requirements, a January 1, 2018 implementation date and the requirement for a proactive citizen education campaign; and

·      Promoted positive action on Florida Amendment 1, on the 2020 Funding and on various Lee County initiatives.


·      We have joyously celebrated Sanibel’s and COTI’s 40th Anniversaries.

·      We have grown COTI membership by over 40% in the last year. 

·      We have expanded the number of people we regularly communicate with, to over 1000 households and 1500 people – a five-times increase in four years!

·      We have endorsed Chauncey Goss for City Council, who won the impressively!

Now to opportunities for continuing vigilance and action:

Some of Sanibel’s challenges come from off-island. The two big issues that I suggest COTI and Sanibel citizens pay attention to are:

·      Actions needed o moderate accelerating growth of Lee County land development, population, tourism and vehicles in a manner that reduces the impact on our community and ecosystem;

·      Actions needed to help improve the quality of our waterways by supporting SCCF’s recommendation to fix our water pollution and Everglades southern water flow problems at its source; and to complete construction of reservoirs that will allow for improved water flow management; and specifically actions to encourage purchase the EAA land before the expiration of the US Sugar contract in October 2015.     Rae Ann Wessel of SCCF and James Evans, Sanibel’s Director of Natural Resources have studied, written and spoken extensively about these issues and actions.


Other “on island” issues COTI leaders and citizens must monitor and when possible, influence include:

·      The completion of the Sanibel commercial redevelopment actions.

·      The completion of the Sanibel resort district redevelopment architectural standards.

·      The continued analysis, planning and decision making to move the “Sanibel Civic & Cultural Core” initiative forward in a fiscally responsible manner.

·      The creation and implementation of an education campaign to inform property owners of the revised Dark Skies regulations.

·      The enforcement of the two new Sanibel buses ordinances.

·      The Sanibel’s initiative to improve how the city handles reclaimed water in a way that helps protect our waterways.

·      And lastly I suggested we all welcome the new generation of residents and snowbirds to into our organizations and civic life - the baby boomers are coming and will have impact on the future of Sanibel.


The above list of issues and actions is ambitious.  Success requires leadership, the ability to form a consensus and involved citizens, working together to take the right actions.  The new COTI Board will meet soon to agree on COTI’s priorities for this year and what COTI actions are possible within our limited resources.

Now to recognizing our leaders:   COTI leadership is a team effort.  This has been the best team I have ever had the privilege to lead.

The following talented and dedicated leaders have made things happen:

Thank you to our departing Board Members:

·   Barbara Joy Cooley – 5 consecutive years on the Board, 4 years as President, Environment Chair & 40th Anniversary Chair

·   Wayne Ponader – Governance, Traffic, Nominations Chair

·   Marty Packard - previous Secretary

·   Ruth Woodham - Secretary

·   Phyllis Gresham &

·   Mike Cuscaden

Thank you to our continuing Board Members:

·   Caroline Swiney - Treasurer

·   Stu Langton

·   Peter Pappas &

·   David Bath – Vice President, Membership Chair, Chief Operating Officer

Thank you to the people who have agreed to be Board Members if elected today:

·   Joe Salatino

·   Mike Miller

·   Maureen Watson

·   Larry Schopp – Land Development Chair &

·   Mike Gillespie – Community Outreach & Nominations Chair


Thank you to all of you who have “let your voice be heard” by sending emails to the City Council, the Lee County Commissioners or State political leaders; and to all those citizens that have voiced their views as City Council meetings!

Thank you to the people who have renewed their Membership this year, and especially those that are long term COTI Members, or those who have made additional donations.  You contributions allow us to increase our strength and impact!

Let’s all work together to: Keep Sanibel Special for the next 40 years!

David Bath will now recognize and thank our 2015 COTI Citizen of the Year!

Jim Beauchamp President, COTI, Keeping Sanibel Special Since 1975